WoW doesn’t come with a raiding instruction manual. If you’re anything like me, you showed up to your first raid or heroic 5-man wearing greens and blues. You thought enchantments, gems and flasks were expensive and perhaps not the best way to spend your gold. You had no idea that all of the boss fight strategies were available in professionally-produced, painstakingly-detailed TankSpot videos and on WoWWiki. And you thought that all of the end-game content was equally accessible to a new raiding group. You had never heard of progression.
Anyway, that was me shortly before I joined my first end-game raiding guild. I’d like to think I’ve moved beyond that mindset a bit. For the benefit of those who may be new to raiding or who are interested in becoming a better raider, I offer the following advice that I’ve picked up from raiding regularly this past year.
Before you go in to a raid, read up each of the boss fights on WoWWiki
For example, here’s the main wiki page for the Ulduar instance:
On the right-hand side of the page is a list of bosses in the instance. Each has a link to a detailed description of the bosses abilities, along with a strategy for defeating the boss. Reading this will already put you ahead of the curve. But there’s nothing like actually seeing the fight with your own eyes, which brings me to my next point…
Watch the TankSpot video for each boss fight, on tankspot.com or youtube.com
Here’s what you do. Visit youtube.com and enter the name of a boss and the phrase “TankSpot” into the search box. For example, the search phrase “Mimiron TankSpot” will bring up this video:
Pretty stellar isn’t it? Now you’ll walk into the fight with a much better sense for what to expect.
Bring enough flasks to last the entirety of the raid
That’s three flasks for a three-hour raid. You can and should buy these at the auction house. Don’t make your raid leader provide them for you regularly. If you want to save some money, you can buy the materials and find an alchemist to make them for you. If you know someone who has “Elixir Mastery” you’ll have a chance to get extra flasks for your mats as well.
If you don’t have enough gold to buy flasks or materials for flasks, you might consider taking a up a profession. Most of them are quite profitable once you max them out. You can spend a few minutes a day using your profession to create tradable items for the auction house, and easily make enough to pay for your Flasks. I highly recommend alchemy, as you’ll be able to make your own flasks and transmute one epic gem per day (which sells for quite a lot at the auction house).
Bring enough buff food to last the whole raid time, even if the raid wipes every ten minutes
That works out to one stack of buff food. If you’re feeling efficient (and generous), you can bring fish feasts instead and share them with everyone. If we all take turns doing that, it will save everyone a lot of time and money. You can buy the fish feasts at the auction house, or farm the materials to make them by fishing in Wintergrasp.
Max out your gear
Putting your best gear on goes without saying. Make sure everything that can be enchanted is enchanted. If you can use the top-of-the line enchants, that’s great. But the second-best enchants are acceptable too, if you think you’re going to be replacing the item in the near term.
Make sure every gem slot is filled. Use epic gems if you can afford it. If you can’t, using rare quality gems is fine too.
Repair your gear
Do it before the raid. Do it when you’re running in after a wipe. Don’t wait until it’s broken, and then cause a delay in the raid while you run or hearth out to repair. If you’re low on cash, it’s time to pick up a profession or two.
Don’t leave your keyboard during the raid
Unless it’s a real-life emergency or the raid leader has said “It’s break time,” stay focused and ready to start a boss encounter at a moment’s notice. Going AFK even for a few minutes is one of those things that seems innocent enough, but it can lead to a lot of wasted time if everyone takes turns doing it.
If you do have to leave your keyboard, try to time it for a moment when you won’t be missed. Like right after a boss has been downed and the loot is being passed out. Write a quick “I have to go AFK for a moment,” do what you have to and return as soon as possible. Giving an explanation when you return is often appreciated too. For example, “I’m back guys. Sorry about that. My cat was on fire.”
Max out your skill
This is especially important for DPS classes, but is also applicable to healers and tanks. Learn how to use your class. There’s an abundance of free resources available online. Elitist Jerks is an especially good site for advice on maxing out your damager per second. The relevant posts are generally under the headline “DPS compendium.” It’s easiest to find by searching on Google. For example, if you’re a death knight, enter the phrase “death knight dps elitist jerks,” which will lead you to this excellent post:
The posters on Elitist Jerks take an almost absurdly scientific perspective to DPS. It’s a fascinating read and you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes for your toon, once you’ve put their advice into practice. They talk about everything from your spec, to the most significant stat for your class, as well as rotations or priorities for your casts/attacks.
After you’ve soaked it in, and made adjustments to your spec/gear… go find a practice dummy in Stormwind or Ironforge. Turn your DPS meter on (download Recount you don’t have one) and try your rotation for a while, without the distraction of an actual boss fight. You’ll be surprised what you can learn by doing this. And if nothing else, it will help your casting/attacks to become second-nature to you; so that you can focus on other things like movement in an actual boss fight.
Listen & stay focused
Listen in awe to every word that comes out of your raid leader’s mouth. Try not to make them repeat themselves. Ask questions if you don’t understand an instruction they’ve given you. Don’t worry about appearing ignorant. Good raid leaders will appreciate you asking.
If any of the above sounds like a lot of work, I’ll tell you it is at first. But eventually you start to see results, and then it becomes a lot of fun. You’ll see your performance improving, and you see bosses dropping that you never thought you’d get past. And it’s beautiful thing to see an entire team of people working together in perfect symmetry.
I don’t know about you, but I raid because I want to see all of the end-game content. And the gear is nice, of course. But perhaps most of all, I enjoy the company of other gamers.